Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth
With all her heart, cordially and sincerely; for, notwithstanding her sinful compliance with others, and neglect of her own affairs, she had not lost her love to Christ; and, being sensible of her sin and folly, whereby she was deprived of his company, and communion with him, applies to him to guide, direct, and restore her wandering soul; and particularly inform her where,
says she, thou feedest;
that is his flock, like a shepherd: for this phrase supposes him to be a shepherd, as he is, of God's choosing, appointing, and setting up, the chief, the good, the great, and only Shepherd of the sheep; and that he has a flock to feed, which is but one, and a little one, is his property, given him by God, purchased by his blood, called a flock of slaughter, and yet a beautiful one, he has undertook to feed; and feeding it includes the whole business of a shepherd, in leading the sheep into pastures, protecting them from all enemies, restoring them when wandering, healing their diseases, watching over them in the night seasons, and making all necessary provisions for them. Or, "tell me how thou feedest" F6; the manner of it, and with what; which he does by his ministers, word, and ordinances; with himself, the bread of life; with the doctrines and promises of the Gospel, and with the discoveries of his love; where thou makest [thy flocks] to rest at noon,
either at the noon of temptation, when Satan's fiery darts fly thick and fast; when Christ is a shadow and shelter in his person, grace, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, ( Isaiah 25:4 Isaiah 25:5 ) ; or the noon of affliction, when he makes their bed in it, and gives them rest from adversity; or the noon of persecution, when Christ leads his flocks to cooling shades, and gives them rest in himself, when troubled by others: the allusion, is to shepherds, in hot countries, leading their flocks to some shady place, where they may be sheltered from the scorching heat of the sun; which, as Virgil says F7, was at the fourth hour, or ten o'clock, two hours before noon; we read of (probatia meshmbriazonta) F8, sheep nooning themselves, or lying down at noon, under a shade, by a fountain, asleep; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy
not real associates with Christ, that keep company with him, and are attached to his word and ordinances; but false friends, hypocrites and heretics F9, rivals with him, who set up schemes of worship and doctrine in opposition to his; such as Papists, Socinians, &c. now such false teachers have had their flocks in all ages, such as have followed them, and have formed separate societies; and therefore the church, sensible of their craftiness, and her own weakness, and liableness to go astray, desires she might not be under, and left to such a temptation, as to apostatize from Christ, and join to such persons and their flocks, or seem to do so: or, "be as one that covereth herself", or "is covered" F11; as a harlot; so Tamar, ( Genesis 38:14 ) ; or as a widow in mourning; she chose not to be, or to be thought to be, either as one that left her husband, an unchaste woman; or had lost her husband, or as if she had none, when neither was the case: or, "as one that spreads the tent" F12; by the flocks of such; as if in communion with them, and joining with them in feeding their flocks; and therefore desires she might speedily know where Christ was, and go to him, that such an aspersion or suspicion might at once be wiped from her.
F6 (hert hbya) "quomodo pascas?" Tigurine version; so the Syriac version and Jarchi; see Ainsworth.
F7 "Inde, ubi quarta sitim coeli collegetit hora", Virgil. Georgic. l. 3. v. 327.
F8 Platonis Phaedrus, p. 1230.
F9 So Stockius, p. 302.
F11 (hyjek) "quasi operiens se", Piscator; "ut obnubens", Cocceius; "sicut obvelans se", Marckius; "velut operta", Michaelis.
F12 So Junius & Tremellius.